This blog is all that remains from the former website which was closed after 8 years of providing a 'wiki' of urban street gangs in London.

An unfinished history of modern urban street gangs in London has been used to replace some of the content of the original site, beginning here

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Breaking the Cycle of Gangs

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Breaking the Cycle of Gangs
Breaking the Cycle of Gangs
Breaking the Cycle of Gangs
Two Fixers from south London are making a satirical film to help young people resist the pressures of gang culture.  Their story was featured on ITV’s London Tonight on Friday 2nd November.

Dante Powell-Farquharson (22) from South Norwood, and Mohamed Idle, aged 21, from Vauxhall, are fed up with being pressurised to join a gang by their peers, and fed up with the police assuming they’re already in a gang,

The film - which is a tongue-in-cheek look at gang culture - focuses on the problems being in a gang can cause, and how joining a gang is never the right choice.

Dante and his group of Fixers scripted and starred in the film, and helped with the post-production work too.

Dante and Mohamed want to take the film into schools and youth centres, hoping that by ‘poking fun’ at gang life, kids will be more open to discuss the pressures. 

To get their message just right, they held a special screening to a panel of experts ahead of their broadcast piece on ITV. Check out the behind-the-scenes pictures below.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Violent play hopes to teach kids about the dangers of gangs and inspire peace

This is Local London

1:22pm Monday 29th October 2012 in By Nikki Jarvis

Violent play hopes to teach kids about the dangers of gangs and inspire peace

A powerful Shakespearian play is being catapulted into the 21st century to tell a story of mistrust, jealousy and paying the ultimate price for getting involved with gangs.

Othello is being put on at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre until Saturday, November 10.

And Culturcated Theatre Company will be collecting funds for the Jimmy Mizen Foundation after each performance.

Jimmy, who was murdered through a mindless act of violence when he was 16-years-old in 2008, is now firmly in the minds of the production’s cast after his mum Margaret came to visit them on October 16.

Jennifer Lunn, director, said: “We are using the original text of Shakespeare but the play is set on a London housing estate now, the idea being that we are looking at young people and the violent subculture they are living and experiencing.

“It’s not a new phenomenon, young people killing each other.

“It’s always happened throughout history.

“We don’t want to demonise young people, but think about what we can do to change this.

“We ask questions, we don’t provide any answers.”

The play also introduces social networking to Othello, making the production relevant to teenagers studying the text at GCSE level today.

Jennifer added: “We are exploring the ideas of jealousy and reputation and how these aspects of growing up in London today puts huge pressure on young people and may be at the bottom of some of the violent acts we see happening all too often.

“We are working with the Jimmy Mizen Foundation as part of our hope to raise awareness and promote discussion about the issues involved.”

Jennifer was inspired to link the production of Othello with the charity straight away.

“Jimmy was killed after his 16th birthday when he’d gone out to buy his first lottery ticket.” She said.

“He went into the butcher’s and this young man came in and threw a glass plate at him.

“A tiny little shard cut the artery in his neck and he died in his brother’s arms.

“Margaret was amazing when she came to talk to the cast, telling us how she felt.

“She has let go of her anger and the Foundation is all about promoting positive change.

“The collections we take will be going towards rewarding young people for doing positive things in their communities.

“She was really enthusiastic about using the arts and drama as a way of building up confidence in young people and communicating messages.”

The cast is made up of trained and untrained young actors.

Tickets cost £13 and £10 for concessions.

Visit for bookings.

'Prison is fun, it’s enjoyable; you get a PS3:' Reporter Hermione Wright meets ex-gang member Jermaine Lawlor


4:04pm Monday 29th October 2012 in By Hermione Wright
Jermaine Lawlor

A report into gang culture after last year’s riots found gang violence has increased. The Centre for Social Justice report, released yesterday, says the arrests of gang leaders has led to an increase in “chaos, violence and anarchy.”

Reporter Hermione Wright takes 30 seconds in Edmonton Green with former gang member Jermaine Lawlor to find out why he got into gangs, why he got out, if it’s got worse, and what can be done to stop young people from ruining their lives.

Jermaine, 21, grew up in Ilford in east London before getting sucked into the gang lifestyle at just 14 years old. He was excluded from school in Year 4 for fighting, and would carry a knife and loiter in the streets with a gang – with many members carrying guns.

He turned his life around at 18 and now visits schools throughout Enfield as a gangs coordinator with the Youth Engagement Panel to warn young people about the dangers of gang culture.

Why did you get into a gang?

“It’s the adrenaline, living on the edge – it was very exciting to know that I could get killed at any minute. The police say if you get caught with a gun or a knife you get four years, but you don’t.

“You don’t care about going to prison; it’s a youth club. I am not sure about going to prison without your friends but I didn’t care. Prison is great; if prison was bad people wouldn’t want to go back.

“Prison is fun, it’s enjoyable; you get a PS3.”

Although the youth narrowly missed prison, he was called to Redbridge Magistrates Court more than ten times for offences including robbery and criminal damage. He was warned if he was called just one more time, he would be sent to jail. However, after he was given the same warning three times without being handed a sentence, it lost its effect.

He came from a broken home, and spoke honestly of the difficulty for young people to focus at school when they are going through difficult times at home. He said: “If there is fighting in the house, if there are drugs in the house and you try to sit in class, how can you listen? All you think about is ‘is my dad going to beat me? Or is my mum going to be dead?’”

Why did you get out?

“Why do you want to throw your life away? I wanted money but it came with a price. It starts off fun, people don’t care about their mothers when they're in a gang; their mothers and little sisters are getting kicked out or kidnapped. My family didn’t want to know me when I was in the gang.”

He ended up in hospital twice – the second time he had his eye split open with a knuckle duster. And at 18, he found God and decided it was time to turn his life around. He said: “I always knew there was someone out there as a young boy. I always thought about my purpose – you can’t go through life living without a purpose, it is like driving without anywhere to go.”

He said part of the pull towards gang culture was feeling like he was part of a family, so he started playing football through AIR Football – a community scheme which helps people to change their lives through sport. In football, he focussed on a skill, kept off the streets, and made new friends free from crime.

Is gang culture getting worse?

“Definitely. Everyone is just hungry – they are just desperate. If you are not making money, how are you going to survive? You and me don’t need to rob anyone but when you have no money, you need it. You need skills.

“It's going to get worse, it is going to get to a point when it is ridiculous. Look at the power and the authority that young people carry, the police didn’t know what to do during the riots – the police say they are the biggest gang but look at the influence young people have.”

He said the riots were partly due to young people feeling neglected, and with a lack of jobs and opportunities for youths, many feel there is little other option than getting involved in crime.

What can be done to stop young people from being lured into gang culture?

“There is not much you can say, you are accountable, we have to take responsibility, we have to wake up and think about our life – there has to be a reason why we want to leave. It has to be appealing for you to leave that fast world of fast money, girls and drugs.

“We live in a great country. No matter how small the room is, we have a toilet and a shower. It can’t be that bad, we have a welfare system that provides.”

Jermaine visited Wood Green Crown Court last week to warn 15 young gangsters from Enfield about making the “difficult” decision to leave their gangs. He says staying in a gang leaves only three options - death, prison, or a psychiatric hospital.

The inspirational youth now lives by the saying: “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.”

Anti-gang campaigners welcome 100-day truce

Evening Standard

Bereaved mothers: L-R Grace Idowu & Margaret Mizen

29 October 2012

The mother of a teenager who lost his life to violent crime has thanked young Londoners who took part in a 100-day truce.

Margaret Mizen’s son Jimmy, 16, died after his killer hurled a glass dish at him during an attack in Lee, south-east London, in 2008.

Last night, she was joined by Grace Idowu, whose son David, 14, was fatally stabbed in Southwark the same year, and 1,000 young people at a Jimmy Mizen Foundation concert at the Indig02.

Attended by Mayor Boris Johnson and X Factor winner Shayne Ward, the concert marked the end of their “100 days of peace” campaign, inspired by a tradition in ancient Greece where hostilities ceased during the Olympics.

Mrs Mizen and Mrs Idowu have now launched a new campaign, Release the Peace, which aims to curb gangs by helping youngsters unleash their creativity. Mrs Mizen, 60, said teenagers at risk of joining gangs needed to be “nurtured and given the love and care they need”. She said: “Some of them will make great leaders if we can coerce them into the right path.”

She regularly visits pupil referral units and talks to children aged nine and 10 about her son’s case.

Mrs Mizen said: “We talk about actions and consequences because a lot of these young people who carry knives don’t think of the consequences. They don’t think that if they take out a knife they could be going to prison for 25 years. That’s 25 years of not being able to see their friends and having to go to bed when they are told.

“Jimmy died because of three minutes of anger. If I was to be angry at the boy who killed him I’d be no better than him. I’ve got nothing else to lose. I’ve lost my son. I can feel really angry, or I can do something positive.”

Mrs Mizen also called on David Cameron to do more to steer vulnerable youngsters away from gangs. “If you reach these children while they are still in primary school you can prevent them from doing bad things,” she said.

Her comments came as a think tank report said the Prime Minister’s “war on gangs” had failed.

The Centre for Social Justice’s report warned that the removal from the streets of “elders” after last year’s riots had created a power vacuum filled by younger gang members.

London's anti-gangs strategy needs beefing-up, says Assembly

29 OCTOBER 2012

The draft strategy designed to reduce the impact of gangs in the capital needs to be more robust, the Assembly Police and Crime Committee has told theLondon Crime Reduction Board (LCRB).

The Committee is concerned that there is a growing gap between the speed and scale of enforcement activity and preventative programmes. It concluded that while action by the Metropolitan Police to ramp up arrests for gang related crimes is welcome, the benefits to communities will be short-term without prevention and diversion programmes to change young people’s behaviour in the long-term.

In particular the Committee urges the LCRB to focus on support for borough based partnerships designed to meet local needs. It also calls for greater emphasis on the unique role the voluntary and community sectors can play in developing meaningful engagement with those most at risk of becoming gang members or their victims.

Joanne McCartney AM, Chair of the Police and Crime Committee, said:

“Achieving a sustained long-term reduction in gang related crime and the deep damage it does to communities in London is not a pipe dream. Success in other cities around the world shows that a concerted effort is needed to match police enforcement with programmes to prevent young people from joining gangs and to divert those who have already taken the wrong path.

“If the London Crime Reduction Board and the Mayor are to deliver an anti-gangs strategy that not only sounds impressive but really delivers on the ground, they will need to spell out the details of how their ambitious and laudable aims are to be achieved.”

In its response to the LCRB’s draft anti-gangs strategy[1], the Police and Crime Committee identified a number of weaknesses and challenges which will require further work by the Board if the strategy is to be as effective and cost efficient as possible. These include:
Providing a precise definition of ‘gang related offences’ against which the success of the strategy can be measured
Providing a much more detailed assessment of the timescale and resources required to implement the strategy
Developing longer term funding arrangements for anti-gang programmes, including alternatives to the commissioning model
Identifying and addressing barriers at borough level to engaging larger regional and national agencies in local anti-gang initiatives
The likely effects of changes to community safety funding
Analysing the unique role charities can play in anti-gang programmes and how these can be better supported

The Committee will examine the strategy’s progress in reducing gang crime in early 2013.

Notes to editors:
Read the Committee’s response
Joanne McCartney AM Chair of the Police and Crime Committee is available for interview. See contact details below.
As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

City Hall urges long-term view on gangs crackdown

London 24 (East London Advertiser)

Monday, October 29, 2012
7:32 PM

London politicians say police plans to reduce the influence of gangs in the capital need to be more robust.

Members of the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee have told the London Crime Reduction Board there needs to be long-term prevention and diversion programmes to change young people’s behaviour.

The body also called for greater emphasis on the role the voluntary and community sectors can play in engaging with those most at risk of becoming gang members or their victims.

Chairman Joanne McCartney said: “Achieving a sustained long-term reduction in gang related crime and the deep damage it does to communities in London is not a pipe dream.

“Success in other cities around the world shows that a concerted effort is needed to match police enforcement with programmes to prevent young people from joining gangs and to divert those who have already taken the wrong path.

“If the London Crime Reduction Board and the Mayor are to deliver an anti-gangs strategy that not only sounds impressive but really delivers on the ground, they will need to spell out the details of how their ambitious and laudable aims are to be achieved.”

The Committee will examine the strategy’s progress in reducing gang crime in early 2013.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Gang leaders' arrests 'spark chaos'

Evening Standard

The arrest of established gang leaders has led to the breakdown of criminal codes of behaviour and an increase in violence, a report warns

28 October 2012

The arrests of more than 200 leaders of London street gangs in the wake of last year's riots has led to an increase in "chaos, violence and anarchy" in the capital, a report claims.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised an "all-out war on gangs and gang culture" following the riots which brought mayhem to many English cities in the summer of 2011, and police have responded by arresting many of those associated with criminal groups.

But the report, by the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, warned that the removal of the so-called "elders" from the streets has backfired by creating a power vacuum in which younger and more hot-headed members seized control of gangs on a wave of violence.

Drawing on interviews with community leaders and former gang members, it warned of an "escalation" of violence as more junior members - known as "youngers" - vie for status and respect in the absence of the restraining hand of older figures who had imposed a code of behaviour.

"There was a consensus that the current gangs neither have such a code nor cohesive leadership, which is resulting in increased chaos, violence and anarchy," said the report by the CSJ, which was founded by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

It also reported a "startling" increase in the number of girl gang members and a rise in sexual violence within gangs, citing one case in which a 13-year-old girl involved with a gang was being sexually exploited by members and was grooming her own 10-year-old sister for the same purpose.

CSJ managing director Christian Guy said that the police crackdown after the riots had "created a Lord of the Flies environment in which anything goes".

He added: "Gangs played a significant role in the riots and it is dangerous to pretend otherwise - in London at least one in five of those convicted was a known to be part of a gang.

"The Prime Minister declared an all-out war on gang culture after the riots, which culminated in a radical strategy heavily influenced by the CSJ's own gangs research. But one year on political commitment is waning and the Government and local authorities have mistakenly assumed that its new strategy represents job done - it could not be more wrong.

"We have talked to members of our countrywide alliance of small, frontline organisations and charities asking them how they feel gang culture has changed in the light of the Government response. Worryingly many have drawn us a picture of little or no progress."

London riot arrests blamed for increase in “violence and anarchy”

London 24 (East London Advertiser)

Sunday, October 28, 2012
10:29 AM

The arrests of more than 200 leaders of London street gangs in the wake of last year’s riots has led to a “power vacuum” in the capital, a report claims today.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised an “all-out war on gangs and gang culture” following the riots which brought mayhem to many English cities in the summer of 2011, and police have responded by arresting many of those associated with criminal groups.

But today’s report, by the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, warned that the removal of the so-called “elders” from the streets has backfired because younger and more hot-headed members have seized control of gangs.

Drawing on interviews with community leaders and former gang members, it warned of an “escalation” of violence as more junior members - known as “youngers” - vie for status and respect in the absence of the restraining hand of older figures who had imposed a code of behaviour.

“There was a consensus that the current gangs neither have such a code nor cohesive leadership, which is resulting in increased chaos, violence and anarchy,” said the report by the CSJ, which was founded by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

CSJ managing director Christian Guy said that the police crackdown after the riots had “created a Lord of the Flies environment in which anything goes”.

He added: “Gangs played a significant role in the riots and it is dangerous to pretend otherwise - in London at least one in five of those convicted was a known to be part of a gang.

“The Prime Minister declared an all-out war on gang culture after the riots, which culminated in a radical strategy heavily influenced by the CSJ’s own gangs research. But one year on political commitment is waning and the Government and local authorities have mistakenly assumed that its new strategy represents job done - it could not be more wrong.

“We have talked to members of our countrywide alliance of small, frontline organisations and charities asking them how they feel gang culture has changed in the light of the Government response. Worryingly many have drawn us a picture of little or no progress.”

In the wake of the riots, the Metropolitan Police created a centralised database of the most harmful gang members, and Operation Trident had its remit extended from gun crime to broader gun-related issues.

Today’s report, entitled Time to Wake Up, welcomed the Met’s efforts, but said they need to be backed up by a broader Government strategy emphasising the need to stop young people joining gangs in the first place.

“Many in Whitehall regard the riots as a random one-off, and mistake the quashing of the disorder as control of the streets,” it said.

“They could not be more wrong. The alarming fact is that many streets across the country are besieged by anarchy and violence. There is no control in such neighbourhoods.”

The CSJ report recommended “addressing the drivers of gang culture, not just the symptoms”, including a new multi-agency Whitehall task force to ensure that as much focus is put on prevention as on enforcement.

It said: “The surest way of eliminating gangs is to try to ensure that children and young people never want or feel the need to join them. To do this we need to tackle deeper issues in our society and seek to nurture and support ever-strong families and stronger communities.”

A government spokesman said last night: “Our Ending Gang and Youth Violence strategy makes clear this problem cannot be tackled through police enforcement alone.

“That’s why a £10 million fund is helping to stop the next generation of gang members as well as targeting those already involved in violence.

“There’s also a new network of Young People’s Advocates to provide direct support to victims of gang-related sexual violence and we introduced gang injunctions for 14-17 year olds.

“There are no quick fixes but we are seeing results. The Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that crime is down by 6%, and police figures show knife crime is down by nine per cent.”

Friday, 26 October 2012

Police chief pledges to root out discrimination. But 'mistrusting' Andover estate teenagers still claim they face racist taunts from officers

Islington Tribune

Andover estate teenagers. From left, Noah Naizehi, Jack Biggs, Jamain Gordon, Gerald Dinnegan and James Aidoo

Published: 26 October, 2012

YOUNG people on the Andover estate have accused police of discriminating against them.

But the borough’s police commander, Gerry Campbell, has said “there is no place for racist police officers in the Met” and has pledged to stamp down hard if any allegations are proved to be true.

A group of young men who spoke to the Tribune this week about their hopes and ambitions, said “mistrust” had built up between police and young people on the Upper Holloway estate after a series of racist incidents.
They also spoke about “postcode discrimination” they face from employers.

Gerald Dinnegan, 17, Noah Naizehi, 18, Jack Biggs, 18, and Jamain Gordon, 17, attend activities run by youth support service The Eden Network at St Mark’s Church.

Mr Naizehi, who is studying for A-levels and plans to start his own business after school, said: “Recently, one of my friends was arrested and in the back of the police van with other friends and one of the officers.

“The officer in the front said: ‘Which one’s Ahmed?’ and the other one responded: ‘They’re all Ahmeds, that’s why they’re in here.’ I was so angry when I heard that.

"You get friendly officers but then that ruins it all because it’s fragile.”

Jamain said some officers routinely “taunted” young people by using Caribbean slang.

“The other day some of them were saying ‘You are a badman’ in a foreign accent and making fun of how we speak,” he said.

“If you’re disrespecting us, how can we respect you?”

Gerald Dinnegan, who has ambitions to be a police officer, said: “We would all agree you do get some good police officers, but too often they behave too much like a force and not enough like a service.”

Islington Police say no formal allegations have been made, but Det Chief Supt Campbell insisted: “I want to be absolutely clear in that I will not – and the Metropolitan Police Service will not – tolerate any form of racist or discriminatory behaviour from a police officer or staff.
“We expect the highest standards of professionalism and conduct at all times.

“There is no place for racist officers or those who seek to discriminate in the Met.

"We will take action to get them out of the police.

“The vast majority of our officers and staff are extremely professional, want to do a good job and come to work daily to provide a good service to Londoners.

"We encourage anyone to report officers and staff who do not meet our standards.

“I want to be clear in my determination that we will provide a professional, qualitative and impartial service and that we will do all we can to prevent crime by working together with the community and partners to keep residents and visitors safe.

“We will work hard to identify, arrest and seek the prosecution of those who cause harm and other crimes and anti-social behaviour in our community.”

The Andover youths revealed how they face “postcode discrimination” from employers.

Jack is currently working in a restaurant but hopes to join the RAF to train as a pilot next year.

He said living on the estate had given him skills Oxbridge graduates don’t have.
“But employers don’t see that,” said the waiter, who has four A-levels.

“I once applied for a job and the employer said they were looking for someone like me.

"Five minutes later he Googled my address on the computer.

"He started saying: ‘Oh you’re from that estate are you?’ and suddenly there were no more jobs left.

"I wasn’t a different person, just he was viewing me differently.”

“If you told most people to work from 6am to 10pm every day they might say no.

"I wouldn’t, I’d promise to top that and arrive at 5am and leave at 11pm.

"I want to make something of myself, but there are barriers.”

Youth worker James Aidoo, 25, who runs the church’s evening sessions said posters on bus stops should show successful young people from estates, rather than youths carrying knives, and that Metropolitan police funding of youth trips to cinemas and other attractions would help.

“They used to do that,” he said. “It would go a long way.

"But young people in our community need an aim, and opportunities to get there.

"If you are on the streets selling drugs or doing something else you are using skills.

“What we need to see are paid apprenticeships that tap into those skills.

"There are plenty of success stories on Andover, but we need to hear more about them, and the talent here needs opportunity in the same way that people in Highgate have access to those networks and aspirations.”

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Junior Smart And The SOS Project Tackle Re-Offending


Wed, October 24, 2012

Junior Smart and the SOS Project

Junior Smart has been an Ashoka fellow since 2008. He has developed a model of peer-led mentoring programme for prisoners to break the cycle of reoffending: Southwark Offenders Support (SOS) is an individualised, holistic mentoring programme run by ex-offenders, that works with prisoners at a high risk of re-offending - both before and after their release.

In deprived areas of London, increased violence, theft, and drug use have contributed to the rise of crime among young people. Junior has been working tirelessly to help these young people back onto their feet, and he has been incredibly succesful in doing so: fewer than 10% of the young clients he works with have re-offended (compared to a national average of 55.5% for adults and 75% for young people). Key to the project's success is that it focusses on the individual and places them at the heart of the approach.

As local authorities recognize the success of Junior's project, they have started working alongside the SOS Project. Below is an overview of their most recent pilots and collaborations aimed at reducing crime - especially re-offending.

Family based work in Greenwich and Ealing

Caseworkers on our SOS Project have witnessed some disturbing developments with their clients over the past years. One has been increasingly younger clients getting involved in gangs – our caseworkers now report seeing children as young as 12 getting caught up.

The other has been the devastating impact of the prevailing recession on families in areas blighted by gang crime. Some families – in desperation – are relying on the proceeds of gang-related crime committed by their children to help support the family and feel powerless to halt spiralling violent behaviour from their children.

SOS has secured local authority partnership funding to develop family support work with families in Greenwich, south east London and Ealing, west London working with 12-15 year olds who are caught up in or at risk of gang crime.

The work in Greenwich is of particular interest. It pilots a new approach to tackling conflict through using the Non-Violent Resistance (NVR) programme. This can be used to overcome violent, aggressive or controlling behaviour in young people by raising parental presence, increasing parental confidence and enabling parents to feel an increased sense of agency in dealing with young people.

Safe and Secure

Gang involvement is often closely tied to the area someone comes from. This can make it very hard for some people to leave negative lifestyles as they do not have the resources or support to up sticks and move to a completely new area.

SOS is now involved in the Metropolitan Police’s pan-London Safe and Secure programme. This relocates young people at a high risk of gang involvement or repercussions from it who need to move to different areas to break away.

In order to be accepted onto the project, clients are required to sign up to a memorandum of understanding to stay away from the area which poses risks and engage with an intensive and challenging package of support designed to help them build new lives for themselves.

The programme works across London and SOS will be working with some of the most high profile clients, bringing our expertise of working with gang members to support Safe and Secure.

Work in Brent and Westminster

Statutory funding for projects is often restricted to work in defined local authority areas. This presents problems for those trying to work with them as gangs don’t operate on local authority boundaries. Gang activity taking place on one side of a street will also be replicated across the road.

We have developed a new specialist service working in a gang hotspot on a notorious estate which borders the London Boroughs of Brent and Westminster. Funded under the Barrow Cadbury Trust’s Transition to Adulthood Alliance (T2A), it works across both boroughs to tackle rising cross-borough gang culture and escalating youth violence on this estate.

Still in its early stages, the project will provide clients with intensive one-to-one mentoring from reformed ex-offenders and provide gang exit routes through guiding clients into education, training and employment.

To find out more about Junior Smart and the SOS Project, visit their website, follow them on Twitter @StGilesTrustSOS, have a look at Junior's profile and follow our Fellow of the Month campaign.

Drug-fighters teaching kids to say ‘no’ are chosen for Lord Mayor’s Show


Mike Brooke
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
4:00 PM

A voluntary group aimed at steering disadvantaged youngsters in London’s East End away from drugs has been chosen to take part in this year’s prestigious Lord Mayor’s Show.

The ‘Say It Loud’ group has landed a £15,000 windfall from the City of London Corporation for a float in the procession on November 10.

Youngsters on the float will be playing the African jembe drum, along with guitar and classical violin, backed by pupils from Raine’s Foundation Secondary in Bow.

“I’ve been playing guitar for three years now,” said guitarist Ben Adams, 14. “These Lord Mayor’s Show rehearsals are much more hands-on than our normal school music lessons.”

Say It Loud, a not-for-profit group set up three years ago using the arts to steer kids away from crime and gang-culture, encourages personal development through mentoring programmes and workshops held in schools and youth clubs.

The group’s founder, Dr Gyles Morrison, is on the steering group of Dare—Drug Abuse Resistance Education—aimed at teaching youngsters how to say no to drugs.

The Lord Mayor’s Show, dating back to the year 1215, is always held on the second Saturday of November. It begins at Mansion House at 11am with 6,000 taking part in the three-mile long procession past St Paul’s, along Fleet Street to the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, where the new Lord Mayor swears his oath of allegiance to the monarch before returning to the Mansion House.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Gang musical North Side Story showed 'potential' of Enfield's young people

This Is Local London

1:45pm Tuesday 23rd October 2012 in By Hermione Wright
Young people performing North Side Story on Saturday

A musical about gang culture showed the “potential” of young people in Edmonton.

Young people from Edmonton's youth centres spent ten weeks rehearsing for the performance of North Side Story at the Millfield Theatre in Silver Street on Saturday evening.

The youths reworked musical West Side Story to create a story based on the streets of north London.

Ola Lawal, assistant manager of Craig Park Youth Centre, said: “It was fantastic, it was very powerful.

“It showed the potential of young people who rose to the challenge. They have all grown in confidence from their performances.

“They are thinking about a career in the creative arts so it has definitely been a big boost to their self esteem. Now they know they can do it.”

He said the youths came from all corners of the borough and decided to pick up on some of the "gang issues" in Edmonton.

Raique Ullah, manager of Enfield Youth Hub which coordinated the musical, said: “It was absolutely fantastic. Of course it is a dream come true for the staff and for the young people having put a lot of work in the last for months and it worked out well.

“It was a massive performance, with what is happening in Edmonton, we looked at the positive side of what young people can do.”

Mr Ullah said he hopes to build on the young people’s success by organising a future musical.

He was pleased so many people showed up to support the project, with almost all the tickets being sold out.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Anti-gang and knife crime event to be held for young people


An event aimed at educating young people about knife and gang crime will be held in Croydon next month.

The event is taking place at Fairfield Halls

‘Momentum-Supporting Young People to Move in a Positive Direction’ is an anti gang and crime event which will be hosted by award-winning comedian Eddie Kadi.

Hosted at Fairfield Halls, the event sets out to educate young people about the dangers and consequences of gang culture.

It will also celebrate the talents and achievements of young people and the contribution they make to their local communities.

The event will be held during the October half-term holidays and is open to young people aged between 10 and 19.

It has been organised by L&Q together with ten housing associations, the Metropolitan Police, Croydon Council and Elevating Success.

Mathew Randle, L&Q Neighbourhood Investment Manager, said: “We chose to hold the event in Croydon as the area was heavily affected by last year’s riots.

"This initiative has been a real team effort and we are absolutely delighted so many partners came on board to make the great event possible."

Tickets for the event are free and early booking is advised to avoid disappointment.

Anyone who wants to attend can register for tickets online at or call Elevating Success on 020 7993 8411.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Enemies at the gate as film crew is called to the bar

North London Today
Friday, 19 October 2012

Best of enemies: Actors Tom Carey and Emma Barton in Enfield

By Koos Couvée
A LOW-BUDGET gangster drama which revolves around child trafficking and has attracted several celebrated British actors is currently being shot in Enfield. 

Despite having a budget of only £10,000, the film features Michael McKell, who has appeared in Emmerdale and Doctors, The Dark Knight’s Ian Pirie and former EastEnders star Emma Barton, as well as Tom Carey and Kris Johnson, who starred in The Magnificent Eleven

Yesterday, the film crew were at The Wheatsheaf pub in Baker Street, Enfield.

The script of the 90-minute drama, which is set to be released in the spring of next year, revolves around a friendship between two gangster bosses which ends in war after one of them finds out that the other is trafficking young girls from eastern Europe.

The production company behind the film, set in Enfield and other parts of north London, is Red Guerilla Films, set up last year by Tony Currier, 41, of Cowdrey Close, Enfield, his wife Catherine Mercella, Nik Styllianou and his brother Peter Styllianou, who wrote the script.

Producer Mr Currier said: “When I read Peter’s script, I was blown away and I really wanted to make this work.

“The subject matter is punchy and the story line is really strong. Who Needs Enemies is not your standard gangster flick. It’s got a lot of substance to it.”

Peter Styllianou, from Crouch End, said: “The story revolves around the moral dilemma some of the characters have about child trafficking, so there is a strong drama element to the film and it brings social issues to the foreground.

“Most gangster films show gangsters simply as bad people, but this tries to show that even in the underworld there is good and evil.”

And Ms Barton, who plays the girlfriend of one of the gangsters, told the Gazette: “I think this film is a great way to promote British writing and the British film industry.

“It is edgy and I think it’s going to be a great success.”

Mr Currier expects Who Needs Enemies to be shown at film festivals across Europe next year and is hoping the it will make it into British cinemas in summer.

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Issue on Gang Culture in London

Leap Confronting Conflict
The Issue on Gang Culture in London
Friday 12th October 2012

Living in London, we are all exposed to gang elements; whether that is being involved in a gang, knowing someone involved in a gang, or just hearing about gangs via the news and social media. Communities and lives are ruined through gang activity and is an issue that needs to be addressed, especially by young people themselves.

As an active young person aspiring to make a positive impact on myself and others around me, I get involved in as many things as possible that will enhance my career and help young people – such as myself – to achieve and become successful.

In June 2012 I got involved in an organisation called iStreet Lab, a portable, diverse, social media equipment point that consists of visual, audio and promotional media. iStreet Lab works in partnership with a Gangs Prevention Program (GPP) “Enough is Enough” to tackle the issue in relation to gangs. The iStreet team have been working together over a 3 month period, filming footage on three aspects of gang culture: what a gang is, family intervention and stop and search. All three topics explain how gangs affect families and communities and what help the GPP can offer active gang members. They also explain to young people their rights when dealing with the police and what information they will be expected to hand over when being stopped and searched.

Once all three videos have been edited, they will be shown to young people, raising awareness of the GPP showing them that there are opportunities out there and for them to gain more of and understand on the matter. One way this will happen is through social media which is the best way to communicate and connect with young people as it’s fast and “speaks their language”; instead of handing them a thirty page booklet to read.

There are hundreds of opportunities for young people to get involved in; however these chances have not been given enough exposure and it’s time that young people are offered the support and motivation they need to develop careers and life skills.

Leah Wallace-Alleyne
Social Media Intern

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Book Launch: Freedom from the Womb, Prisoner to the Streets 17th Oct, Tottenham Bernie Grant Arts Centre

Attention PEOPLE Please add this date to your calendars

Launch Event, Wednesday 17th October, Tottenham's Bernie Grant Arts Centre, see
here for further details

Prisoner to the Street official website - see chapters 1 and 2 here

PLEASE spread the movement, and forward these links to all your contacts, who may have a common interest.

Hope to see you ALL THERE.

God bless
Any questions, Please don't hesitate to call 07940-171-176

See also:

Book Review: Freedom from the womb, prisoner to the streets
Prisoner to the Streets Facebook Page

Friday, 5 October 2012

Teacher wants to help reduce knife crimes

Tottenham Journal
Teacher wants to help reduce knife crimes
by Flora Drury
Friday, October 5, 2012

Boxing academy teacher Tom Ogg knows more than most the price paid by those left to pick up the pieces of knife crime – in July, former pupil Kemar Duhaney was stabbed to death in the street in Hackney.

Tom Ogg wrote Boxing Clever about his experiences.

Mr Ogg had had high hopes for Kemar; indeed, he had been the main character in the book he was writing about his experiences at Tottenham’s London Boxing Academy Community Project entitled Boxing Clever – a book he hopes will help other teachers and youth workers.

“Kemar was a young person who came through the system – all the staff felt he was very special.

“Although he had been involved in negative things on the street and in school, it was clear he did not want to be part of that anymore.”

Mr Ogg has since had to add a post-script for Kemar, who lived in Bruce Grove.

“Kemar was a victim of the tendency of young people to turn to knives to resolve their disputes. He was a victim, as are all the young people who die or are injured through knife crime.”

The most recent figures released by the Metropolitan Police suggest there is more than one knife crime offence committed every day in Haringey but this, Mr Ogg believes, is just the tip of the iceberg.

“What you need to look at is hospital admissions. Most people who are stabbed won’t report it to police. The hospital admission statistics tell the real story.”

But what to do about it? Mr Ogg is clear: more positive educational experiences – as Kemar had – and a more robust approach to young people caught offending.

“Only 22 per cent of people found with a knife without good reason will receive a custodial sentence – that is a one in five chance.

“Is that a strong enough disincentive for young people not to carry a knife? Especially given how low the chance of being caught in the first place is.

“I think it is wrong to treat young people more leniently than adults because young people find it more difficult to understand the consequences of their actions.”

- Boxing Clever is published by Civitas: The Institute for the Study of Civil Society, priced at £9.50.

Donate to Kemar’s funeral fund by visiting

Islington Borough gang's profile information

Crime purge puts gangs in spotlight (Islington Tribune)

Map showing gang territories. Key: 1 Elthorne Gang 2 Elthorne drugs market 3Res burglary in the north 4 Crouch Hall Court gang 5 Andover youths 6 Finsbury Park drugs market 7 HSG in Highbury West 8 Alcohol issues in Nags Head 9 i-phone robbery and snatch areas 10 Bemerton gang 11 Bemerton Estate drugs market 12 Milner Square youths 13 EC1 / Spa Green gang 14 Spa Green / EC drugs market 15 Res burglary in Canonbury / Mildmay

Published: 5 October, 2012

A REPORT has laid bare the extent of youth gang rivalries and alliances in Islington, the crimes they are responsible for and where they operate.

It blames them for an almost quadrupling of “snatch offences” last year – mainly people having smart phones snatched from their hands – and a 30 per cent increase in “personal robbery”.

The report singles out a “significant” increase in serious youth violence, “largely as a result of gang rivalries in the borough”.

The Strategic Assessment 2012-2013 report plans ahead for next year while analysing the past year, and comes with detailed maps of “gang” and drugs market hotspots.

It will be discussed by the council next week and comes as an Old Bailey trial heard evidence of what is claimed to be a gang-related murder.

The 16-page Safer Islington Partnership report pays special attention to the make-up of gangs, speaking of newly formed alliances between the Elthorne Gang and Haringey’s Grey Gang and “constant encroachment into a rival gang terri­tory (the Crouch Hall Gang), leading to a number of tit-for-tat violent incidents”.

This echoes concerns voiced by Islington’s crime chief Labour councillor Paul Convery concerning gangs forming “alliances” and working together in larger areas, which the Tribune reported last month.

“While the Crouch Hall Gang have splintered, with members either in prison, involved in other criminality or no longer coming to notice, the Elthorne Gang have been regularly coming to attention for offences such as drug dealing and handling stolen goods,” the report says.

In the south of the borough violent incidents were said to have increased between the Caledonian Road-based Bemerton Boys, who are now involved in the theft of iPhones and drug dealing, and EC1’s Easy Cash gang, who are connected to “smash-and-grab burglaries, robbery, drug dealing and anti-social behaviour” across Islington and Camden.

“This centred around a ‘respect’ issue between members from each side, with the Bemerton Boys accusing their rivals of disrepecting a fellow gang member who was murdered in 2009,” the report says. “A significant amount of partnership work has helped reduce the tensions and the corresponding violence seen. The Bemerton Boys are now involved in the theft of iPhones and drug dealing in their immediate area.”

So-called “drugs markets” have sprung up in Finsbury Park, and centre around the Andover and Six Acres estates. The markets are not gang-controlled but centred around a “group that has been identified, and attracts people from a large area”.

Yesterday (Thurs) the Tribune joined a police swoop across the borough, as part of the two-day Operation Red Kite, covering 14 different operations in Islington.

It is the borough’s “largest-ever” multi-agency endeavour, with numerous police units working together with Islington Council to “prevent and detect” future problems.

At 7am yesterday, 20 police officers swooped on two flats in Eagle Dwell­ings in City Road. Four people were inside both flats. One arrest was made for possession of a Class A substance after drugs paraphernalia and illegal methadone were seized.

Officers then moved onto the Peabody estate for a “systematic” weapon search, known as Operation Cleansweep, part of Red Kite, which used search kits, one police special, six POLSA (police search advisors) officers – to search the internal parts of the estate and the stairwells – and four police constables.

Four police community support officers and a park guard with a sniffer dog searched the exterior with the help of the estate’s caretaker. A small bag of cannabis was seized.

Sergeant Brett Grant, who led the weapon sweep through the estate as it was divided into sections, said searches would become a regular part of the team’s work across the borough.

“We have not done this for 10 years but long-term it will yield results,” he said. “Not only will it allow us to identify problems early, but we will be logging small details which could be vital in future investigations. Routine weapon searches are going to become a regular part of the way we work from now on. It’s going to help us develop new ways of working.

“The people who we are targeting get wise to things quickly. They constantly change the way they work, and we need to stay on top of things.”

Sergeant Aaron Barnes, who led the POLSA officers, said they worked in pairs searching visually and with equipment, and dismantled areas such as lifts, drains, and electric boxes.

In Finsbury Square, officers targeted cyclists’ safety, carrying out free security marking and safety awareness demonstrations showing how to ride alongside heavy goods vehicles.

Operation Red Kite will be tackling a variety of offences throughout the borough over the weekend.

Fighting Mad!

South London Press

Friday, 05 October 2012

By Kate Gould

A FORMER south London gangster surprised boxers when he visited their gym.

“Mad” Frankie Fraser turned up at the Double Jab gym in New Cross to meet the Cameroonian Olympic boxers who became club members after failing to return home from the Olympic Games.

The 88-year-old who was born in Lambeth and has served a total of 42 years in jail for offences of robbery and gang-related violence, said he had been following the story of the five boxers in the South London Press.

Christian Donfack Adjoufack, 28, Thomas Essomba, 24, Yhyacinthe Mewoli Abdon, 26, Serge Ambombo, 26, and Blaise Yepmou Mendouo, 27, turned up at the club at the Moonshot Centre in Angus Street at the beginning of September after going absent from their team’s Olympic training quarters.

They asked to be trained by head coach Patrick Harris because they had heard he was “first rate” and have since been given life membership.

Mr Fraser was given a tour of the club before meeting the Cameroonians and some of the young boxers who were working out and sparring at the gym.

He said: “The place is terrific, absolutely terrific! A knock-out! The coaches have really made my night.

“It was brilliant to see the youngsters working away and how everyone got on.

The atmosphere was excellent.

“It was a pleasure to meet the Cameroon boys.

“I’ve read all about them in the South London Press and they were very polite.

If only they had places like this when I was young, my life could have taken a different turn. I can’t wait to go back.”

Double Jab head coach Patrick Harris said: “Frank was walking around giving the boys and girls pointers and tips and telling them to keep up with the boxing and not waste their lives running around on the streets. Frank also really enjoyed the sparring and we look forward to his next visit.”

And the end of his visit, Mr Fraser was surprised when he was handed life membership of the Double Jab ABC.

Visit for information on the club.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Success of Westminster anti-gangs strategy threatened by funding cuts

Dave Hill

A central London Tory council and a local Labour MP are concerned for the future of a promising strategy against serious youth violence

Three teenage boys sat on a wall on a council estate in London. Posed by models Photograph: Giles Moberly/Rex

Early last month the Met announced that, "Stabbings and shootings among young people have fallen since the launch of the Trident Gang Crime Command just over six months ago." You'll remember the "crackdown" fanfare at the time, prompting in me disobliging fears that there would be more copstrut public relations than real, lasting action against the territorial violence becoming ingrained in parts of London among the young. And, anyway, how were we defining "gang violence" in the first place?

Well, fair play, the new figures do look impressive, especially when broken down to borough level. I didn't obtain the latter from Met itself (just thinking about asking overwhelmed me with defeatism) but because they were supplied to a recent meeting of those working together to reduce the persistent, sometimes violent feuding across the borders between Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Brent (which I reported here and here), primarily youth workers, local politicians and police officers.

Recorded offences categorised as "serious youth violence" have fallen in almost every borough the first half of 2012/13 compared with the previous financial year, including very sharply in Westminster, Brent, Lambeth, Newham, Waltham Forest, Enfield and Lewisham where they had previously been at the high end of the range. Forecasts for the end of the present year include a 67% fall in Westminster, a 53% fall in Brent and a 36% fall in Lambeth.

Be advised that the Met's youth violence stats refer to all victims, not perpetrators, aged under 20, including infants. They do not, therefore, include offences against people in their early twenties. It would interesting to see stats about those, especially as the gang command initiative was targeted at teenage offenders and those a little older - the gang membership age group.

Even so, Labour MP Karen Buck, who represents the Westminster North constituency and has been closely involved with attempts to end the violence, is encouraged by progress so far. However, she also has a fresh concern. A new report from Westminster council on the progress of its multi-agency anti-gang and serious youth violence strategy Your Choice states:

The current concern with regards to funding is the extent to which the current level of intervention is funded through external grants, most of which are due to expire at the end of the current financial year. Continuation of this funding is being discussed between the Home Office and the Mayor's Office for Police & Crime (MOPAC).

The Safer Westminster Partnership has agreed to roll-forward some funding to cover some of the shortfall in 2013/14 (approximately £250,000) however, it is currently estimated that to ensure the sustainability of Your Choice we would need to secure over £500,000 of additional funding per year.

Buck has written to Westminster's chief executive Mike More. She warns:

If, after a period of only 12 months or so, attention and resources are taken away from the anti-gangs strategy, the problem will flare up again as a matter of almost mathematical certainty. The underlying problems have not been addressed – indeed, in many ways, they are getting worse - and the only way to avoid the tragedy of serious violence or worse, and the expense of an exclusively criminal-justice system orientated approach, is to continue with this work.

All of us concerned with tackling gangs and serious violence know that sustained intervention is the only solution. Even generous short-term schemes do little good and leave young people frustrated and let down by the lack of consistency. All the "noises" being made by the Mayor and the Council suggested that this point was understood, yet now we are being warned that Your Choice could be strangled before it is properly born.

If that additional annual £500,000 isn't found, I can think of a few politicians who should end up in jail.

WALTHAMSTOW: Youth organisation relaunch a success

This is Local London
By Joe Curtis »

A YOUTH organisation attracted 150 new members after its relaunch last weekend.

WALTHAMSTOW: Youth organisation relaunch a success.

The Soul Project in Wood Street, Walthamstow, reopened its dedicated youth space on Saturday, September 29, and saw 156 new faces pass through its doors.

The community centre teaches free courses in music production, graphic design, drama and dance for children and teenagers, and also offers mentoring and advice for people at risk of social exclusion or joinging a gang.

Steve Barnabis, the founder and director, said: "It was a greatly successful relaunch. It's fantastic to see so many people interested in learning a new skill and having fun at our centre."

He added that the organisation has recently become a charity, meaning peoplen can make donations directly to it and opening new funding opportunities to it.

"It's excellent news and means we should see more money coming in now. One of the things we want to do is get performance groups touring, possibly abroad," he added.

Its charity number is 1148244 and you can text a donation to 70070 if you write in the text: +TSPY40£ followed by the amount you wish to give.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Police and council working with 100 Croydon youngsters at risk from gangs

Croydon Advertiser

Monday, October 01, 2012

UP TO 100 young people with links to gangs in Croydon are on the radar of both the police and the council.

The Advertiser was this week told of the scale of the work being carried out by our agencies, which has even involved some entire families being moved out of the borough, to protect them from being caught up in gang culture.

Former gang leader Justin Rollins believes the gang problem is out of control across London

It has been revealed that the council and police are "engaging" with dozens of youngsters – giving an insight into the huge amount of work faced in tackling the problem.

They range from those at risk of joining gangs, to others who have left and still need support, to hardened members.

Andy Opie, head of community safety at Croydon Council, said: "A number would be on the periphery and they would be a target for some of our early intervention. Help is there if they want it."

The work ranges from one-to-one mentoring to finding young people a school place or getting them into positive activities, such as sport or music.

In an extreme handful of cases each year – if they are in danger – Croydon Council has helped to move families out of the borough.

Meanwhile, former gang leader Justin Rollins, 28, believes the gang problem remains out of control across London.

Mr Rollins, who grew up in Carshalton, said: "I'm not involved in it now, but you hear the stories that come out of Croydon, highlighted from the riots. There are probably four main gangs in Croydon; then you have the spin-offs."

Mr Rollins has 17 convictions for robbery, grievous bodily harm, possession of an offensive weapon and possession of an imitation firearm, and has served four jail terms. He formed the gang WZ, short for Warriors, but has since turned his life around.

This culminated in him writing the first in a series of books about his experiences, called The Lost Boyz: A Dark Side Of Graffiti.

His second title, an eBook called My Crazy Days As A Young Offender, has just been released.

Mr Rollins, who is also an urban artist, said: "Writing a book about my experiences has been like therapy."

And in a message to gang members, he added: "I would tell them it's not a glamorous life like you see in films or on the music videos. It's a horrible, brutal reality – there's more to life."